News & Events


Undergraduate Student Wins Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship


Junior undergraduate student Lewis Jones, studying mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering, has been awarded a Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship. The fellowship recognizes exceptional college juniors, seniors, and graduate students pursuing aerospace careers and includes a paid internship at a commercial space company based in the United States. Lewis will be interning at Millennium Space Systems. At Caltech Lewis founded and is the current president of the rocketry club (Parsec) which is developing a methane-oxygen rocket. [2019 class of fellows]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Lewis Jones

Graduate Student Wins First Place At Ferro2019


Mechanical engineering graduate student, and Resnick fellow Ying Shi Teh, advised by Professor Kaushik Bhattacharya, has won first place for her poster presentation at the Fundamental Physics of Ferroelectrics and related materials workshop (Ferro2019). Her poster featured her work on modeling the photovoltaic effect in multi-domain ferroelectric perovskite oxides. The Ferro2019 is the 30th in the series of workshops that has gathered the world’s leading theorists and experimentalists working in the field of ferroelectrics and related materials every year since 1990. [List of award recipients]

Tags: honors MCE Kaushik Bhattacharya Ying Shi Teh

New Materials Exhibit Split Personality


Julia Greer, Professor of Materials Science, Mechanics and Medical Engineering, and colleagues have determined that the failure of architected materials—the point at which they break when compressed or stretched—can be described using classical continuum mechanics, which models the behavior of a material as a continuous mass rather than as individual (or "discrete") particles. This finding implies a duality to the nature of these materials—in that they can be thought of both as individual particles and also as a single collective. [Caltech story]

Tags: APhMS research highlights MCE Julia Greer

The Moving Earth, Micro to Mega


Nadia Lapusta, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Geophysics, creates computer models of earthquakes by integrating an astonishing range of data—on scales from thousands of kilometers down to microns and from millennia down to thousandths of a second. “You have to understand the mechanics across the entire earthquake system, starting at the micrometer scale,” says Professor Lapusta. “This is the challenge.” Her numerical models rely upon field observations, seismic monitoring, lab experiments, and theoretical science, while complementing those endeavors with a new perspective. The predictions expand researchers’ view beyond the limits of direct observation—which is important for events that occur across thousands of years. [Breakthrough story] [ENGenious story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Nadia Lapusta

Meet the 2018 Amazon Fellows


The Amazon Fellows program is the result of a partnership between Caltech and Amazon AWS around Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The 2018 Amazon fellows are Ehsan Abbasi, Gautam Goel, Jonathan Kenny, Palma London, and Xiaobin Xiong. Abbasi is interest in contributing to a deeper understanding of convex and non-convex learning methods in AI and is an Electrical Engineering graduate student working with Professor Babak Hassibi. Goel’s research interest is at the interface of the theory and practice of machine learning and is advised by Professor Adam Wierman. London is also working with Professor Wierman. She is developing efficient algorithms for solving extremely large optimization problems. The methods are applicable to distributed and parallel optimization. For example in a distributed data center setting, the algorithms are robust to unreliable data transfer between data centers and take into account privacy concerns. Kenny is a Computation & Neural Systems graduate student working with Professor Thanos Siapas on deep neural networks to identify and classify brain states. Xiong is a mechanical engineering graduate student who enjoys working on real physical robots, to make them walk, jump, and run in real life. He is advised by Professor Aaron Ames and their research is focused on robotic bipedal locomotion

Tags: EE honors MCE CMS Adam Wierman Babak Hassibi Thanos Siapas Aaron Ames Ehsan Abbasi Gautam Goel Jonathan Kenny Palma London Xiaobin Xiong

Microscopic Devices That Control Vibrations Could Allow Smaller Mobile Devices


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, and colleagues have developed phononic devices that include parts that vibrate extremely fast, moving back and forth up to tens of millions of times per second. The devices were developed by creating silicon nitride drums that are just 90 nanometers thick. The drums are arranged into grids, with different grid patterns having different properties. Professor Daraio, along with former Caltech postdoctoral scholar Jinwoong Cha, have shown that arrays of these drums can act as tunable filters for signals of different frequencies and can act like one-way valves for high-frequency waves. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights Chiara Daraio MCE APh postdocs Jinwoong Cha

Professor Ortiz Honored by Universidad Politécnica de Madrid


Michael Ortiz, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering, has received a Doctorate Honoris Causa (honorary doctorate) from his alma mater, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. [ENGenious article featuring Professor Ortiz’s solid mechanics research]

Tags: honors GALCIT MCE Michael Ortiz

Professor Daraio Receives Outstanding Alumni Award


Chiara Daraio, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, has been awarded the UC San Diego Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Outstanding Alumna Award for her outstanding achievements in mechanical metamaterials and materials science. [Award recipients]

Tags: honors Chiara Daraio MCE APh

Nailing It: Caltech Engineers Help Show That InSight Lander Probe Can Hammer Itself Into Martian Soil


Professor José Andrade’s research team including Postdoctoral researchers Ivan Vlahinic and Jason Marshall have helped the InSight Mars lander boldly go where no one has gone before: beneath the surface of Mars. InSight is equipped with two main instrument packages: a seismometer for studying how seismic waves (for example, from marsquakes and meteorite impacts) travel through the planet and a "mole" that will burrow into the ground, dragging a tether with temperature sensors behind it to measure how temperatures change with depth on the planet. These instruments will tell scientists about Mars's interior structure (similar to the way an ultrasound lets doctors "see" inside a human body) and also about the heat flow from the planet's interior. When designing the mole the engineers at JPL wanted to be certain that it would be capable of reaching the necessary depth, and so they called on Professor Andrade, an expert on the physics of granular materials. He was able to develop new computer models that helped the JPL team predict the mole's effectiveness in Martian soil. Unless the mole encounters an obstacle, Andrade is confident that it will be successful. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Jose Andrade postdocs Ivan Vlahinic Jason Marshall

Professor Colonius Receives AIAA Aeroacoustics Award


Tim Colonius, Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has received the 2018 AIAA Aeroacoustics Award for his outstanding contributions  to theoretical and computational aeroacoustics for the prediction and control of noise and his absolute commitment to educating the next generation. [AIAA release]

Tags: honors MCE Tim Colonius